November 28, 2018

My 8 Favorite Salads

In America, I never prepared any of my food.

In France, I started to learn how to cook.

In Germany, I started to learn how to make salads.


In America, especially in California, I could find any food I wanted to eat in a restaurant or ready-to-eat in the supermarket. I never cooked. Ever.

In France, there were phenomenal salads on nearly every restaurant menu. There was no need to make salad at home, in addition to the fact that the grocery store produce section was usually a bit wilted and wanting. I started learning how to cook because it was less expensive, I had a ton of free time, and French restaurants weren't typically open for dinner when I had to leave for practice around 5:30 p.m.

Here in Germany, there are some salads at restaurants, but the typical turkey "fitness salad" can only stay exciting for so long. The Germans take much more pride in serving heavier dishes than they do in putting together a delicious salad.

I'm not really a salad inventor; I'm more of a salad copier [read: thief]. The great thing about salads is that you can see and taste all the ingredients and simply memorize what goes with what.

Some of these salads may not sound like they could really work together, but realize this: I do not eat food that tastes bad. Marc and I have a running joke that, of course, whatever I'm making will taste good because I only like food that tastes awesome!

8. Vera's Very Tart Salad

Vera has no idea I even have a blog, and I'm sure she learned this salad recipe from someone else. This Russian woman would make a killer salad for our pre-game team meals, sometimes based with cold pasta noodles and other times based with salad greens. She always included chopped up red onion, cucumber, bell pepper, feta cheese, and sometimes also tomatoes. Always tossed in an olive oil dressing mix of some kind, it's not a salad to eat on a date, but it sure fills you up with a lot of vegetables and fresh food.

7. Lindsay's Christmas Salad

Serves 4
4 c. broccoli, cut into bite-size pieces
1/4 c. red onion, thinly sliced
4 strips bacon, cut or broken into strips
1/4 c. craisins
1/4 c. sliced almonds
1/2 c. mayonnaise
1/8 c. white sugar
Salt and pepper, if desired
Cook bacon. Combine mayonnaise with sugar (can later season with salt and pepper, if desired). Combine broccoli, onion, bacon, craisins, and almonds in a large bowl. Mix in dressing. (You can also add in lettuce or spinach leaves, if desired.)
Originally posted HERE.

6. Italy's Caprese

Some might argue this isn't a salad, but if there's anything I've learned from being abroad, it's that a "salad" can be anything you want it to be! Taking large tomato slides, layers of mozzarella, and fresh basil leaves, then drenching all of it with olive oil and balsamic vinager basically creates Italy on a plate. Couple with some fresh breads and garlic for an absolutely Sicilian summer feel.

5. Lyon's Honey Bae Salad

Whatever the real name of this salad is at a very nice Lyon restaurant, I like this name better. Thick slices of bacon with fresh apples, smothered in local honey...need I say more? I don't even remember the other ingredients; I just know it was the perfect balance of sweet and salty and the best dinner salad I have ever eaten.

4. Fred's the Best Salad

Fred, Fred, FRED!!! We only had the temporary fortune of going to his darling salon de thé for a short year and a half before he moved away from Melun, France, to pursue other cooking ventures. He had no menu and he only served one meal per day, totally dependant on whatever he found at the local market. He was always combining fresh fruits with steamed vegetables on top of greens and matching the perfect who-knows-what-they-were dressings. The most memorable included peeled grapefruit, green beans, and steamed potatoes - a truly unexpected masterpiece, as were all of his dishes. Pictured below is where Fred's restaurant used to be...

3. Cat's Simple Salad

All these crazy combinations, but the simplest and easiest to enjoy definitely has to be Cat's Avocado Mango Spinach salad. It's only got what the title says it's got! I don't even add dressing because I love the tastes of the ingredients themselves so much. Cat is the American volleyball coach and schoolteacher that I used to work volleyball camps for in the summer in the Netherlands. I so miss her delicious meals! (See #1 for the ultimate!)

2. Oliver's Melon Salad

Going back to France for this one; when I have stayed with my great friend, Laureline, and her boyfriend has made plenty of our meals. My all-time favorite from Oliver is the melon salad, and it's the only one out of this whole list that I make as often as I can find good cantaloupe at the store! I literally HATED cantaloupe and never ate it until I was just being polite and eating this salad that had been made for me. Now I understand I just needed flavor balance to enjoy it. Take one cantaloupe, a bunch of cherry tomatoes, two apples, a pack of feta cheese, and shredded fresh basil leaves and toss the whole thing together. The cantaloupe and feta together create its own interesting dressing, and this salad will save for up to three days after it has been made. The times I have added bacon have also been excellent!

1. Cat's Crazy Creation Salad

I cannot get enough of this salad and I really have no idea how to make it. Cat is on this list twice and I probably could have added her two more times! Basically, she made couscous, but flavored it similar to tabbouleh (don't expect me to explain what that is), added a bunch of the right vegetables, and put this huge mound of meal in front of us. Then she instructed us to add blueberries.

Talk about another meal I started out eating only because of trying to have proper manners! Very quickly, my manners were long gone as I went back for seconds and thirds of this glorious concoction. Someday I will take the time to figure out how to make it on my own, but until then, the supermarket Carrefour sells a ready-made "Taboulé au poulet rôti" that tastes nearly the same. Group that with a pack of blueberries and a sack of Babybel cheese rounds, and I've got my favorite on-the-go meal in almost all of Europe!

Do you make and/or eat crazy salads? 
What's a recipe you didn't expect to be good and ended up awesome?